President Obama refused to discuss the details Thursday of whether his administration offered a Democratic congressman a high-ranking government job to stay out of a Senate primary race, promising reporters that they would receive a response soon.
“There will be an official response shortly on the Sestak issue, which I hope will answer your questions,” Obama said when asked about the matter at the end of his first full White House press conference in about 10 months.
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Obama, who took 10 questions, was asked about the charges made by Rep. Joe Sestak, Pennsylvania Democrat, in the very last question of the session, by Major Garrett of Fox News. Most of the press conference was dominated by talk about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
When pressed by Garrett whether White House officials did anything wrong, Obama said they had not.
“I can assure the public that nothing improper took place, but as I said, there will be a response shortly on that issue,” Obama said, brushing off further questions on the matter.
Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican who has been the most vocal critic of Obama on the Sestak controversy, said “hopefully, the pending response President Obama referred to will detail what conversations were had with Congressman Sestak.”
“If what President said is true and nothing ‘improper’ took place, Admiral Sestak’s credibility will be called into significant question,” Issa said. “If the President’s response is insufficient or contradicted, the situation will only escalate.”
It is likely that the White House will release details about the matter late Friday at the beginning of a three-day holiday weekend.
Sestak has said for months that top White House officials tried to keep him from challenging incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Democrat, in the primary. Sestak defeated Specter in the primary last week.
Since Sestak’s primary win, questions about the matter have grown louder but White House officials have refused to divulge details about conversations that they acknowledge took place.
Top Obama adviser David Axelrod said this week there is “no evidence” of wrongdoing.